Remarks by Mr. Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator at Policy workshop to review the implementation of Party Resolution 24 on Ethnic Affairs “Leaving No Ethnic Minority Woman Behind: Challenges and Solutions”


Event: Policy workshop to review the implementation of Party Resolution 24 on Ethnic Affairs "Leaving No Ethnic Minority Woman Behind: Challenges and Solutions"

Date: August 12, 2019

Venue: 11 Le Hong Phong, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

A very good morning to you all,

It is my honour to be here and join this important discussion, as we review the 15 years of implementation of Party Resolution No 24 with a special focus on the development of women of the country's 53 ethnic-minority groups.

Viet Nam is signatory to many international treaties and conventions related to human rights, the rights of women in general, and ethnic minority women in particular, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that committed to leave no one behind.

Today we have an opportunity to further boost these efforts, and the United Nations looks forward to supporting Viet Nam in making the most of this opportunity.

Viet Nam has developed a relatively progressive legal framework at the national level and on-the-ground to improve the lives and prospects of ethnic minority women to contribute to the achievement of the National Strategy for Gender Equality 2011–2020. In the past few years, two important policies advancing ethnic minority women were approved, including the "National Project on Ending Child and Inter-Family Marriage in Ethnic Minority Regions for the 2015–2025 period" and the "National Project on Supporting Gender Equality Activities in Ethnic Minority Areas for the 2018–2025 period". However, inequalities between the Kinh ethnic group and ethnic minority groups remain wide and persistent, especially in education and training, employment and income, and health care and reproduction.

With support from UN Women, the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs conducted a gender analysis based on the 2015 national survey results of the socio-economic situation of the 53 ethnic minority groups. The analysis found that members of ethnic communities were three times less likely to be working in skilled positions – and the difference was more pronounced among ethnic minority women.

The same study found that many ethnic minority girls join the workforce full time by age 15, while most Kinh girls of the same age continue attending school.

Overall, children from ethnic minority groups are more likely than Kinh children to be out of school. This trend increases in higher schooling levels, with 47.2 per cent of ethnic minority students dropping out of upper secondary school, mainly due to child marriage and early entry into full-time work.

The early marriage rate is 17 times higher among ethnic minorities than among the Kinh, affecting around a quarter of ethnic minority couples. And in some ethnic minority groups, girls are up to 3.4 times more likely to be married as children than boys.

Compared to Kinh women, a larger share of ethnic minority women accepted various justifications for violence carried out by husbands or partners.

Ethnic minority women spend more time doing unpaid care work than Kinh women. A time use survey in 2015 with nearly 8,000 participants showed that an ethnic minority woman in Ha Giang province can save 54 working days per year (nearly two months) if clean water is provided to her household.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ethnic minority women and girls are more disadvantaged in terms of access to opportunities and resources due to social norms which tend to position women as inferior to men and restrict their livelihood options and often limit them to domestic and reproductive activities. The intersection of discriminations based on both gender and ethnicity has very significant impact, compounding inequalities faced by ethnic minority women and girls. In the context of Viet Nam's commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the pledge to "leave no one behind", the issues facing ethnic minority groups and obstacles to gender equality in ethnic minority areas require further special attention.

The discussion that we are having today on the empowerment of ethnic minority women is central to Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, which in turn is central to the development of the nation as a whole. To achieve this goal, government bodies must ensure that their planning, budgeting, decision making, policy making, and monitoring reflect the specific needs of all ethnic-minority individuals: girls and boys, women and men. We must ensure that investment to address gender inequality in ethnic minority regions is prioritized across all areas and sectors and promote a human right based approach, giving priority to ethnic minority groups.

In the context of reviewing the Party Resolution on Ethnic Affairs, the United Nations in Viet Nam would like to suggest some key recommendations for your consideration:

First, empowering ethnic minority women and advancing gender equality in ethnic minority regions is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending discrimination against them is not only a basic human right, but it will also have multiplier effects across other development areas. This will require a clear vision in the Party Resolution, to strengthen and promote a strong, gender responsive legal framework for the development of ethnic minority regions in Viet Nam.

Second, while we welcome and will continue to advocate for gender mainstreaming in existing objectives and targets, this resolution has the great opportunity to create a truly transformative agenda: developing independent targets and indicators to address gender inequality in ethnic minority regions which would help track the commitments and resources being made available for these efforts. We hope this can be done.

Third, any concrete commitment to address gender inequality in ethnic minority regions must be supported by a reliable monitoring framework. This means that progress towards targets must be measured through specific and measurable indicators, gender responsive assessment during the implementation review, with the requisite strong commitment of resources to ensure this.

Fourth, continue to invest in social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure in ethnic minority regions to support the increased productivity and economic viability of ethnic minority women and reduce their unpaid care work.

Fifth, we must also strengthen the capacity of the government and local authorities for the development, implementation and monitoring of gender-responsive policies and programs in ethnic-minority regions.

Last but not least, we need to promote the full and equal participation and leadership of ethnic minority women and women's organizations in policy dialogues and decision making related to the development of ethnic minority groups in Viet Nam.

Distinguished participants,

Efforts to end gender inequality in ethnic minority regions must build on Viet Nam's existing commitments to gender equality. The United Nations stands ready to support the people of Viet Nam in this important journey. Under the leadership of Viet Nam Women's Union, I hope the recommendations we make today will be shared in a timely manner with the Party drafting team for the revision of the Party Resolution on Ethnic Affairs.

I wish you all a very fruitful discussion.

Xin Cam on!